- Thanks to Anton Sedgeman for his assistance with this
Middlesbrough’s home (based on a self-produced late 1980s design) and away strips 2019-20 were both fine kits – they were rated as 55th and 36th respectively in Footy.com’s poll to find the best of that year.
If we’re being picky, though, we couldn’t say that they were a great set of kits – the needless black trim on the home cuff (seen nowhere else on the kit) jarred with the prominence of navy on the away. It’s all the more baffling given how navy has often featured on their first kits – and does this season.
The lack of cohesion was shown on the opening day of the 2019-20 season, when Boro were away to Luton Town, whose home kit was orange shirts, navy shorts and white socks. That meant Middlesbrough wore the away shirt with home shorts and socks, resulting in a jarring mis-match of the Hummel chevrons.
While red shorts have often been used as first-choice by the club in the past, there was no proper alternative set available early in the season, meaning that the away shorts were used with red shirts and socks away to Blackburn, Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town.
Eventually, red shorts were produced, first worn away to Queens Park Rangers in November, but that wasn’t the end of the odd mashups.
In its original iteration as the 2018-19 away, the dark-blue-almost-black shirt was joined by shorts in the same colour and white socks trimmed in blue. Slightly counter-intuitively, it wasn’t worn away to Brentford in 2018-19 and an all-white third kit appeared instead – though the backs of the Bees’ home shirts were solid red and there was no real clash issue.
However, with the new white kit for 2019-20 not a feasible option for Boro’s final trip to Griffin Park in February 2020, the previous away shirt was called upon as a third option (featuring the Heads Up logo). The default shorts couldn’t be used against Brentford’s black and so the home set had to be donned. Rather than the normal socks for the kit, the new 2019-20 away set was used, presumably to make the red trim look less out of place.
A 3-2 loss meant that the odd-looking combination wasn’t remembered fondly but it didn’t inspire Boro to specify alternative items for their new blue and black away kit for 2020-21 – only last month, their trip to the Brentford Community Stadium saw the home shorts and socks used.